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Gunman on loose in Paris after shootings

Police were hunting a lone gunman on the loose in central Paris on Monday after he opened fire at the offices of a left-wing newspaper and a major bank before hijacking a car to take him to the Champs-Elysees avenue.

The shaven-haired assailant, who police said was filmed by video-surveillance cameras, fired shots at the office of Liberation daily, seriously injuring a photographer's assistant before fleeing, police and staff at the newspaper said.

About 90 minutes later, he opened fire outside the suburban headquarters of Societe General in the La Defense business district 10 km (6 miles) west of the center, wounding no one, police and a spokeswoman for the bank said.

An image of the suspect released by Paris police
Prefecture de Police - Paris
An image of the suspect released by Paris police

Shortly afterwards, the same man hijacked a car nearby and forced the driver to drop him on the Champs-Elysees Avenue in central Paris, the driver told police.

There was no immediate indication of his motive.

In a press conference on Monday, French prosecutor Francois Molins described the suspect as male, Caucasian and between 35 and 45 years old. He said the gunman had grey hair, was unshaven and between 170-180 cm in height.

Molins added that ammunition found on Monday was similar to that found at an incident on Friday 15, when an armed intruder entered the offices of the BFMTV channel, threatening journalists before disappearing.

The suspect wore green shoes with white soles on both occasions, the prosecutor said.

BFMTV on Monday released images of the suspect from their video surveillance cameras.

"As long as this person is still on the loose and we do not know the motives, this represents a threat," Interior Minister Manuel Valls told reporters outside Liberation's offices. "We must move fast."

President Francois Hollande, on an official visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, said "all means" would be deployed to catch the attacker.

The wounded photographer's assistant was hit in the chest, a police official said.

"He walked in, fired twice and left," Liberation managing editor Fabrice Rousselot told reporters.

Deputy editor-in-chief Fabrice Tassel said in a tweet that the young male victim was fighting for his life in hospital.

Liberation's offices near the Place de la Republique in east-central Paris were cordoned off as forensics experts investigated. Police were deployed outside the offices of other media outlets in the French capital.

Also on Monday, Liberation tweeted that its website had been hacked and Societe Generale said that some clients were having difficulties accessing online services. It is not known if these issues are related to the earlier shooting.

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